Bottom Paint recommendations

Thread starter #1
I am in the final stages of preparation for painting the bottom of my sunfish. Hopefully the snow will melt and temperature will com up to the point where I can get back to work. I looked at an Interlux product called Perfection yesterday. It is a two part epoxy paint. Although it is designed for over the waterline, it has an anti abrasion qulaitiy that I think is good. The boat is not kept in the water. The bad news is that is costs $58 a quart. Since I got the boat for free, I don't object to the cost, but if there is a product with a known track record, I would go that way. I have a compressor but have never spray painted anything. I anticipate using a roller or brush.
Another question: my sail is probably at least as old as the boat (1968). What performancve differences would I anticipate in buying a new sail. Thanks, I have always received great advice through this forum.

Dave G.
Keep your money in your pocket for now. I personally don't like to paint a hull, it is mostly cosmetic, for land appearence only, adds drag (= slow boat) and the hull is in the water where nobody can see it when sailing. Do a search of the forum for "paint" and read all of the entries, pro and con. Minifish posted one back in July that may interest you (bbryants answer). Some will apply to your situation, some won't. Then check the Sunfish FAQs on the first page, there are two articles, both use paint. One suggests trying rubbing compound first, which is good for lightly oxidized surface (not your situation), and then paint. Another source is found on the SF Class Home page under Tips and Tricks, Gell Cote repair. This is the method I used on a 1969 hull that was really bad and ended with a hull that was shiney, smoooth and looked nearly new. Applied some "McLube" on the hull bottom. Fix your nicks and dings first using Marine-Tex, not automotive putty (it absorbs water).

As far as replaceing your sail, if it is in fair or better shape use it until you can get a new one. You will probably not notice much of a difference between your old sail and a standard new one. You will notice a difference if you get a race sail (larger and deeper belly). It may not point as high, but the extra speed will make up for it.

Check the Yahoo group "Sunfish Sailor" for other info on both paint and sails. Good Luck
Thread starter #3
The Mclube option sounds like a possiblity. When I got the boat it had a thick coust of a very ugly red paint on the bottom. It was the shade of automtive primer. I have that just about all off, with a little residue to get off along the keel. The bootom appear to be in good shape, some shallow sratching that will fill and sand easilly. I considered paint, most for cosmetics, but also for some protection since I am sure I took any existing gel coat iff in the sanding/stripping process. I'm in no hurry to spend money so I can try the McLube option first. (it it ever warms up aound here!)

Dave G.

If you plan on painting DO NOT use McLube. It is a dry lubricant with PTFE that "bonds tenaciously" (from the can side). How difficult it would be to remove prior to painting, I do not know. Check the McLube web site ( for more info. Mclube helps repel dirt, grime, weeds and such to make the hull a little more slippery (slick surface = paint won't stick). Also check the gel coat repair tip mentioned in previous posts.

If you only have a few small spots of dark showing through the white gel coat with no fiberglass fibers apparent, you should be good to go. If fibers exist, they must be sealed, preferably with epoxy, before painting (paint will not seal the fiberglass fibers). If they are not sealed, you will end up with a leak and more problems.

I checked with Team McLube about removing Mclube Sailkote and this is the reply;

"McLube is easily removed from hull surfaces by either cleanign the surface with a towel or cloth rag and acetone (or the sovent of your choice), or you may also sand it off the area.

Personally, I'm more meticulous that most, and I would prefer to clean the surface with a solvent first, and then I would sand the entire surrounding area. This will allow the fresh glass to adhere as well as any gelcoat or finishing paint.

Best of luck with the repair, and have a great season this year!

Sincerly yours,

Ron Rosenberg

Team Mclube"
Thread starter #6
I think I am lucky in that the bottom does not have any fibers that are visible. There are spots where there is light green visible faintly. When I sanded I was as cautious as possible not to get too ambitious. When I can get the boat out into the light, get the final spots of paint off , and get a good luck at the bottom in the light, I'll be able to make a better decision. One potential benefit of the McLube is that not having painted fiberglass before, there is a possiblity that I will do as ugly a job on it as what I sanded off. I make no claim to talent, but I am having fun working on the boat.

Dave G.


Regular Member
Sounds like if you have some green barely visiable that you have taken the original gelcoat to a very thin layer in the process of removing the ugly paint job. You need to ask yourself the purpose for which you will use the boat and whether or not the bottom finish is that important too you. I have attached some pictures if a 1965 Sunfish that was a good boat that had serious gelcoat damage from sitting in the sun for many years without use. This is the second boat I have restored and the first one was able to just be wet sanded and buffed and the shine came back. The one in the pictures was more like what you describe where the gelcoat was so badly oxidized sanding took me down to very thin areas. This boat was sprayed with Awlgrip epoxy primer and then Awlgrip topcoat, wet sanded, and buffed and probably looks better than the day it rolled out of the factory. For me the restoration was the challenge and now I race this boat and thoroughly enjoy sailing the boat as well. BTW...Awlgrip is can be toxic if sprayed in an enclosed area so please be sure you are confident you have adequate ventilation. So ask yourself why you want to paint the boat? Is it the challenge? Do you want a fast boat? Are looking for cosmetic reasons? If you just want to go fast then you dont neccesarily need to paint the boat. My goal was to do a full restoration and then be able to race and enjoy all my effort in bringing the boat back to life.


Looking good, very nice job. I see a couple of upgrades that you have done. I'll list the ones that caught my eye;

1.The rub rail does not appear to be the aluminum type of that vintage, What did you use and how is it attached?
2.I see a port in the rear wall of the cockpit, any advantages or disadvantages? Or did you install it to install the hiking strap?
3.Is there another port for the rudder up grade (couldn't see/tell)?
4.You gave the basics of how you painted your SF (spray primer, spray top coat, wet sand, buff), any tips or recomendations?
5.How has the paint stood up to beaching, trailering, etc?
6.Could the Awlgrip paint be applied with a roller or brush for those who do not have spray equipment?
Again, nice job.


Regular Member
Hi John...I will try to cover off each point with some more detail.

1) The rub rail was purchased at West Marine and is made by Taco Marine. It comes in different sizes and is a flexible vinyl cover with an aluminum core. It is just a press fit and has a lip on the inside edge to hold it in place but it could be glued on if neccessary. The fit is pretty tight in most places and I used a rubber mallet to get it into place.

2) The inspection port in the rear wall of the cockpit was put in place to install the eyestraps for the hiking strap. I also prefer the cleaner look of not putting an inspection port in the rear deck and I believe they will eventually tend to leak regardless of how much sealant you apply.

3) There is not another port for the rudder upgrade. This particluar boat was very water logged and I went the extra distance of carefully splitting the deck at the stern to replace the foam. While I had the deck lid up I went ahead and installed the backing plate for the rudder upgrade. I should mention that I didnt take the deck completely apart and I only split the seam enough to do the work. The forward blocks were also replaced by again carefully splitting the hull/deck seam. I did not break the mast step, daggerboard trunk, or cockpit floor loose. Only the seam and that allowed me to work from the outside edge inward. The hull seam was glued back together with West Systems epoxy and 1 layer of fiberglass cloth then it was held togther with a lot of small spring clamps until the glue set. The edge was then dressed and the boat doesnt leak a drop. The boat now weighs around 125.

4) If I had to do it again I would have rolled the primer and then wet sanded the boat before final paint. The old gel coat was very porous and spraying the primer didnt fill all the pin holes. Rolling the Awlgrip 545 primer coat would have solved that problem by forcing the paint into the pinholes.

5) The verdict is still out as the boat has only been finished since Oct of 2004. Being an avid racing I am very cautious about how I take care of the boat so it wont be touching a beach and so far the trailering hasnt been a problem.

6) The Alwgrip can be rolled and tipped but I dont have any experience with that. Rolling would be safer than spraying from a health perspective. I used a Wagner Softspray HVLP spray gun that operated at around 4-6 PSI so that also cuts down on the overspray. You dont want to breath this stuff and that is why it isnt recommended for DIY, however, I felt that I had plenty of ventilation spraying outside and decided to go for it anyway. I did have a resperator which is a must have!

Hope I answered all you questions...let me know if I can answer anything else and thank you for your kind compliments.
Thanks for your answers. You did a lot of work and the results are great, You should be proud of your boat. The vinyl rub rail is a great substitute for the aluminum one. As you have probably read in other posts, splitting the hull is not recommended, but you prove that it can be done successfully if done carefully. You must have spent a lot of time thinking about how to do it. I like the no rear deck port look and the additional drain on the port side is a good idea.

The paint sounds like it may be an alternitive to other paints such as Interlux. Not having painted anything but the splash rail on a Sunfish, I can not comment on the Interlux or other brands. Awlgrip has its safety precautions and may be more sutible for some one with painting experience due to them. If the ventilation and other safety issues are observed, a novice may be able to use it with a roller and tip off brush.

Wouldn't it be great if there was a Latex high gloss paint. With good abrasion resistance, good coverage with brush, roller or spray and minimal fade. In using Latex on my models, I have become a fan of Latex (I still use model airplane dope and other paints) due to the ease of application and water cleanup. I do coat my planes with polyurethene to fuel proof them.

David, let us know how the Awlgrip paint stands up and how you fare with a painted hull in the races. Again great job.


Regular Member
The drain plug on the port side was standard on Sunfish in 1965 not sure when they did away with that feature. The painted hull has done fine in races I have several race wins in this boat.

I will keep you posted regarding how the paint holds up over time.
Thread starter #12
I thank you also David,
I will use the boat strictly for recreational purposes so your input, and that of the others is a big help. I get too ambitious sometimes and go overboard with what I need to do to get where want to be. I haul the boat is the back of my S-10 pikup and punt around in local lakes and the ocean. I will take a more detailed look at the awlgrip and the other options. I realized recently that I have a can of Sailkote spray that I use on my wife's treadmill. I may get ambiious yet and do something to make the boat look good but for now, having fun is more important to me. When I get back to work and have money, I may think differently.

Dave G.
Don't use Marine-Tex. The stuff is hard as hell to sand. If there is some near-glass exposure get some formula 27 from West Marine and use that to fill. It sands much easier and is quite durable. The person who owned my fsh before me decided to use Marine Tex and I ahd to gring it all out and then add glass, then 27 it , then finish with fairing filler.
i have sunfish with some exposed fiberglass on the bottom....i guessing its gelcoat that has been worn off on the rear of the keel. if i chose to paint the bottom is it pretty much a matter of removing waxes. then primering and then painting?? to get a nice looking protective cover on the bare fiberglass sections???

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